BY FIDELITY MHLANGA
A HOSPITALITY sector executive says the industry lost $1 billion in potential revenue this year, after multiple business closures precipitated by the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The disease was discovered in China at the end of last year, before spreading across the world, forcing tourists to abort travel plans after airlines grounded operations.
Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe president Clive Chinwada said the sector was facing the greatest threat in its history after operators ran into financial dire straits due to a slowdown in arrivals.
The Tourism Business Council of Zimbabwe has estimated that the industry will decline by up to 97% this year as a result of losses stemming out of the pandemic.
It says recovery of the industry will hinge on how the domestic tourism sector will respond in the aftermath of the pandemic.
“(We have lost) in excess of
$1 billion when you aggregate the contribution of our industry to national gross domestic product,” Chinwada told Standardbusiness in an exclusive interview.
“If you talk to the major poultry farmers, you will understand they have struggled for demand in the past five months because fastfood outlets, restaurants and hotels have not come to the party.
“It goes beyond the industry alone.”
Chinwada said he was not expecting much from international travel in the short term.
Asked if the sector was ready to combat the spread of Covid-19 after the government gave them the greenlight to resume operations, Chinwada said the industry would operate under strict guidelines released by the World Health Organisation (WHO) early this year.
“The industry has been at the forefront in fighting Covid-19, including making donations to the state for this cause,” he said.
“As operators, we have measures at property level in line with WHO guidelines.
“These include disinfection of rooms, physical distancing measures in all facilities, provision of ample sanitisation stations in our public spaces and enforcement of mandatory wearing of masks.
“Due to the nature of hospitality operations, we manage events and movement of guests, hence we are able to better manage and prevent transmission.”
Government has promised to inject bailouts of up to $500 million in hotels, restaurants, tour operators and other players to help the sector return to full operations.
However, it has failed to honour its commitment, and many players say they have been pushed to the brink.
*See full interview on page 20